It’s funny how you’ll go years not thinking of a particular issue, and then run into it two or three times in the same week. That’s the case for the current riddle about mechanic lien law now confronting me. And since I can’t find any answers in a survey of mechanic lien cases in the US, I turn to the world of construction attorneys to help.
So, it’s clear that mechanic liens must be filed within a prescribed time period in every state, and it’s clear that the time period starts at some defined marker. While not the case in all states, in many states the lien deadlines begin from when the lien claimant last furnished labor and/or materials to a project.
I’ve written about some nuances presented by this trigger date in the past, mostly related to whether punch list work or warranty work will count as a day of furnishing. See, for example, “The Importance of Knowing When Your Lien Period Begins” and “Think You Know The Last Date You Delivered Materials or Performed Services? Think Again.”
A few material suppliers have recently inquired with me as to whether their last date of “furnishing” is the date the materials arrive at the jobsite, or the date when the common carrier takes control of the materials if they are delivered to a loading dock FOB? (Definition of FOB, by the way, available on Wikipedia at this link).
The concept, of course, is that if the materials are delivered to a common carrier FOB, the title will actually pass from the supplier to the prime contractor / subcontractor / owner at the moment it hits the FOB location. So, does that mean the materials were “furnished?”
Or, are the materials not really “furnished” because they were merely put into the contractor or owner’s name and not yet furnished to the job site itself? Liens are, after all, claims against the property and not against any specific individual in a theoretical sense…
I think this is a great question, but I honestly cannot find an answer :). What says you?